DIY saddle pack

After the success of my quickly cobbled together saddle pack on a recent bike tour, I decided to build a proper saddle pack from the ground up that would work for carrying my Stratospire 2 tent on the back of my bike.

Bits and pieces

  • 500D outdoor waterproof cordura;
  • 25mm (1") webbing;
  • 25mm (1") side release clips and buckles;
  • some grosgrain for tie-outs.

Process

  • make a cardboard template to get seat angle, seat post length and tyre clearance right;

  • prototype side panels in cardboard and assemble "3d" model;

  • produce pattern for top and bottom of bag;

  • work out the sewing order;
  • build prototype out of Tyvek and test;

  • refine and build final version.

Sewing order

  • prepare grosgrain tie-outs by tacking ends together;
  • pin tie-outs to side panels;
  • stitch side straps;
  • pin side straps to side panels;
  • stitch narrow end of top and bottom panels together (if not cut from one piece);
  • stitch webbing to combined top/bottom panel;
  • stitch one side panel in starting with tight curve on front-most point of panel and doing top edge - make sure tie outs are in place;
  • stitch other side panel starting with tight curve on front-most point of panel and doing top edge;
  • stitch bottom edges of side panels;
  • add half buckles to end closure webbing and stitch together;

Sewing Notes

  • needle used: 14/90;
  • thread used: Mettler "extra stark";

Prototype

Building the prototype out of Tyvek taught me a few things:

  • my original method of locating the roll top tensioning straps didn't work that well on the bike and made the bag cumbersome to get on and off;
  • the webbing that locates the tie-on straps should go all the way over the top and round the bottom to give the most compression options for different loads;
  • side stiffeners are not necessary if carrying just the tent, but made out of flexible cutting board they weigh very little and do mean that you also have a couple of cutting boards along;

Final version

This time out of 500d denier:

  • side view with tent inside;

  • top view with tent inside;

  • side view empty;

  • top view empty;

  • weight - 185g;
  • on the bike;

Design goals and principles

One of the key ultra-lightweight camping principles is to design gear to have multiple uses. For the saddle pack, this principle was pursued as follows:

  • saddle pack itself replaces the tent's stuff sack;
  • straps used on saddle pack are removable so can be used on other things in an emergency or left on the bike when carrying the tent;
  • straps can be positioned anywhere around the pack allowing you to decide on the most secure configuration depending on the pack's contents;

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